Sadly, all good things must end, and our trip ended in the most wonderful place possible: Venice! I LOVE Venice. I have always loved Venice. I find it so unusual (no cars whatsoever, with one exception—see the photos below), so quiet because of no automobile traffic (which isn’t to say that boats and gondolas aren’t noisy—they are), and so scenic (is there a bad sight in Venice?—probably, but just around the corner is the next gorgeous view).
We rode the train from Verona to Venice Friday, where Steve and Jenny had arranged for a water taxi to take us to our hotels. Because Steve and Jenny were celebrating their 11th wedding anniversary, they stayed at a nice hotel, Ad Palace. Julie, Cade, and I stayed at another hotel, Hotel San Moise, which was just okay, because Ad Palace didn’t have rooms with three beds. The staff at the Hotel San Moise were great, but the hotel was a bit worn at the seams and the breakfast didn’t even come close to those in the other hotels we stayed in during the trip.
Our hotels couldn’t have been in a better location though. Both were just around the corner from the Teatro la Fenice, an opera house a few blocks to the west of St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), the religious, social, and political center of Venice. The Teatro la Fenice neighborhood was chock-a-block with good shopping, great food, scenic canals, historic buildings, and interesting walks. It was my favorite place I’ve stayed in Venice so far. Steve and Jenny’s room looked out on a gondola thoroughfare, and they could hear the gondoliers and musicians serenading their passengers. That sounds pleasant and romantic to me, although I suppose it could have been just plain noisy.
Because we’d been sitting all morning, Julie, Cade, and I walked to Campo Santo Stefano (St. Stephen’s Square) for no particularly good reason other than to stretch our legs. After we’d walked for a while, Cade decided to be our navigator and for 30 minutes or so, led us on a tour of a Venice that most tourists probably never see! He was a great navigator though and got us back to Campo Santo Stefano with no wrong turns—a miracle in the winding streets of Venice! It was hot in Venice, so of course we had to stop for a granita, and we then made our way back home for a rest and a few games of Uno before dinner. We returned to Campo Santo Stefano for dinner at Beccafico, a good fish restaurant, and we called it a night.
Saturday we went to the island of Murano to see the Murano glass makers and the island of Burano to see the lace makers. Although I liked them both, I especially liked colorful Burano. It looks like a painter went crazy there! Beautiful and so vibrant! We had an okay lunch on Burano and headed back to Venice. We walked home from the vaporetto (water bus) stop through the Cannareggio district, just north of the Grand Canal. We detoured to see the historic Rialto Bridge, and with Cade navigating, returned to our hotels to rest.
Jenny and Steve went off to Algiubaggio for their anniversary dinner, and Julie, Cade, and I walked up to St. Mark’s Square. I love St. Mark’s Square— always so busy!—and I especially like St. Mark’s Basilica on the eastern end. Cade, however, especially loved the pigeons! People in St. Mark’s Square feed the pigeons, so the pigeons act like household pets and have no fear of anyone or anything. They perch on people’s arms, shoulders, and heads (yuck!), and people appear a bit nervous but not enough to avoid encouraging the pigeons to perch and eat. All I can think of, of course, is pigeon droppings all over the place, so feeding the pigeons isn’t something I EVER want to do. But Cade was fascinated, and we watched the pigeon-feeding frenzy for quite a while—at a distance! We then had dinner at Ristorante Venice, which is next door to Teatro la Fenice. I had a wonderful duck dish that they make only one day a year. How could I turn THAT down! It was delicious, and we enjoyed the restaurant a lot.
That was the end of my trip, because I took the train back to Rome Sunday. The rest of the family stayed until the crack of dawn Tuesday morning and had a ball seeing St. Mark’s Square, the Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs; touring the Grand Canal; climbing the bell tower on St. Mark’s Square; and taking a gondola ride. They recommend Rosa Rossa—sort of near Campo Santo Stefano—for dinner, so I pass this tip on.
That’s all folks! We all had a magnificent three weeks, and I hope our family comes back next year!